The Real Story Behind Eric Church’s ‘Springsteen’

Upon the release of “Springsteen,” Church predicted that this would be his “biggest record.”


Melanie Rooten

| Posted on

February 21, 2024

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Eric Church; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

On February 21, 2012, Eric Church released his smash hit “Springsteen,” but contrary to popular belief, the tune is not centered around the legendary Bruce Springsteen after all.

“Springsteen” focuses on young love instead, ultimately leaving fans of the track with just a few burning questions: What is the meaning behind “Springsteen,” and how did it come to be?

The Origin of “Springsteen”

“Springsteen” serves as the third single from Church’s third studio album titled Chief, following “Homeboy” and “Drink In My Hand.” The song was recorded in 2011 – featuring drums, a guitar, a keyboard, and a synthesizer, lacking the country music staples that are a fiddle and a steel guitar. It was written by Church alongside Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tyndell.

Eric Church - Chief Album Art
Eric Church – Chief Album Art

As far as the release goes, the North Carolina native told Taste of Country, “Out of the entire record, this is the song I’ve been the most excited about the entire time… It’s my favorite song on the record. I think it’s going to be our biggest record. It’s been one of the best songs we play live,” foreshadowing the success that was to come.

He then shared how exactly the tune came to be, continuing passionately, “‘Springsteen’ was born on the road… Jeff is in my band. I wrote ‘Smoke a Little Smoke’ with him. It was the first time Ryan came out on the road. He had kind of this drum loop and piano part. When we recorded it, we didn’t try to reproduce it. We just used it. It’s very haunting and cool. We started painting this picture with the song. I’ve always wanted to do a song about the experience that fans have and that I had myself, on the lawn at an amphitheater at a concert.”

As Church changes his pitch and tone from verse to verse, “Springsteen” is nothing short of spectacular, however, its overall meaning is what makes it a country classic unlike anything else on the radio right now.

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Meaning Behind Eric Church’s “Springsteen”

Sharing with Taste of Country that “Springsteen” stems from the experience of being “on the lawn at an amphitheater at a concert,” Church elaborated on the experience, sharing a personal story of his that exemplifies exactly that.

“I went to a concert when I was younger with a girl, and to this day, when I hear that artist, it’s the soundtrack to that girl. I never think about her any other time, except when that song is on. That’s where the ‘Springsteen’ came from, and he seemed to be the perfect guy to craft that story around because of my love for him,” Church told The Boot, confirming that said concert was not a Springsteen show, however, he decided to make him the focus of the tune nonetheless.

“I have such a reverence for Bruce Springsteen’s career and how he’s built it,” he continued, once again explaining his decision to make the tune related to the rock icon.


Throughout the track, Church mentions several songs by Springsteen – such as “Born to Run,” “Born in the USA,” “Glory Days,” and “I’m on Fire” – all while telling the tale of young love.

“When I think about you, I think about 17 / I think about my old Jeep / I think about the stars in the sky / Funny how a melody sounds like a memory / Like the soundtrack to a July Saturday night / Springsteen,” the CMA Award-winner sings in the chorus.

The Success of “Springsteen”

Critics praised “Springsteen” upon its release and fans couldn’t get enough.

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“Springsteen” achieved a great deal of success from country music lovers nationwide, debuting at number 52 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for the week of February 18, 2012, ultimately becoming Church’s second No.1 song on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart on June 23, 2012.

The song was even nominated for two Grammy Awards – Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song – however, Church failed to take home the trophy in either category.

Eric Church; Photo Courtesy CMA
Eric Church; Photo Courtesy CMA

What Was Bruce Springsteen’s Reaction To The Song?

Given the success of the song, “Springsteen” naturally garnered the attention of Bruce Springsteen himself, with the rock icon giving his assistant and road manager, Wayne LeBeaux, a letter to pass onto Church at a concert back in 2012.

“[Springsteen] took out a set list and wrote me a great note, filled up the whole back of the set list talking about how he was a fan of the song, how his family was a fan of the song. He signed it and said ‘I hope we cross paths somewhere’ …It’s a pretty incredible note. It’s the first time I’ve officially heard from him. I had heard he was a fan of the song, but it’s the first time I officially heard. It means the world to me,” Church told Billboard regarding the letter, admitting that he currently keeps it “locked up” in a safe space.

To this day, country music lovers can listen to “Springsteen” on their favorite music streaming platform.

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Melanie Rooten

Written by

Melanie Rooten

Melanie has been writing for Country Now since August of 2023. Originally from Southern California and currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee, she graduated from Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma in 2023 with a BA in Journalism. During her free time, she loves going to concerts and music festivals, binging her favorite TV shows, spending time with her friends and family and cheering on the Oklahoma Sooners (of course).